thinkiesandthoughtiesQuestion 3: Disregarding all financial responsibility, would you spend the next five years restricted to a densely populated city, or a quiet coastal town?

Due Date: Friday, January 24.

The coast has always been a melancholy place for me. Everything is gray and weathered. It feels lonely and timeworn. This is similar to the way I feel in antique shops, which you can certainly find plenty of at the coast.

The city is busy and bright. I love the illumination of lights at night, especially if they reflect over a body of water. I love the variety of culture, personal style, performances, and shops and eateries.

Without putting much thought into it, I would choose to be confined to a large city for five years. But I did think about it. A lot.

I think people have a tendency to fill emptiness with things. My life is especially busy right now because of school, work, preparing for marriage, a career, and other responsibilities. This go-go-go schedule can’t help but affect my expectations for a “normal life”: keeping busy, looking for ways to grow, experiencing new things — all things a place rich with culture has to offer.

It is enriching, but also exhausting.

Things are just placeholders. I think people should fill the silence with themselves. When isolated to a quiet coastal town, we only have the soft murmur of nature. When compared to what the city offers, we only have a few options for entertainment. When we are lonely or bored, we are stuck with ourselves. Yes, I do think it is important to do this primarily alone.

It makes me sad that I only pay attention to a handful of people in the crowd (the rest an identity-less blur). I want to have the time to really acknowledge each person as an individual consciousness, and I don’t think a person can really do that when constantly saturated with things. This can include any number of pressures: academic, societal, marital, personal. We constantly label ourselves. We constantly fill the void with things.

I truly think five isolated and quiet years would offer me relaxation, renewal, and enlightenment. I think it would help slow time. I think it would remind me that I’m not another face in the crowd, and that I shouldn’t treat my time as a means to an end.

Does that make sense?

View Jennifer’s answer to Question 2

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Thinkies & Thoughties is inspired by The Book of Questions by Doctor Gregory Stock. Grab a cup of coffee — or something a little stronger — and sit down, open up, and share yourself every Friday.

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10 thoughts on “THINKIES & THOUGHTIES: Question 3

  1. Quiet coastal town. Definitely. All the people and noises of a city, no thank you. I’m way to introverted a person to enjoy a busy city more than a few days. I can barely tolerate being at a crowded event more than a few hours. I feel too confined and trapped. I want lots of open space and quality alone time.

  2. This one is easy for me. It would have to be a quiet coastal town. At my age, I think the world is already moving too fast and the hustle and bustle of the city always makes me nervous. To have a home by the sea, especially in Oregon would be a dream come true. Warm, lazy summer days strolling on the beach, watching the children building sand castles, and the dogs running in the water after sticks, watching the sun slowly set and marveling at the beauty of nature would be heaven for me. Fall/winter when the storms start to roll in and the wind and surf pick up and mother nature pounds the coast with all her fury always makes me realize just how small and insignificant we are, in the scheme of things. Sitting safely inside by a fire with a good book while the storm rages all around me fills my heart with joy. People in the big cities are always in such a hurry and the noise seems to be overwhelming at times. Sirens, horns honking, people talking on their phones….give me a quite beach house any day.

    1. Ashley and Bonnie, I appreciate the quiet and soothing atmosphere of an isolated beach town. Life is full of obligations and rushing — all that melts away when looking out over the ocean, or cozying up instead if the weather is violent and impressive. I’m afraid I would be too lonely if I lived there and couldn’t leave for five years. I often think I would have more to do in the city, but maybe that’s the problem: are we so obsessed with filling our minutes with things to do that we forget how to exist in our own skin? Ooo, I might copy that line and use it in my answer!

  3. I’m with Ashley and Bonnie on this one. A quiet coastal town would be a welcomed haven from the bustle of city life. When I first moved to Naples, Phil and I lived in a one room “bungalow” on stilts right in front of an inlet near the beach. The smell of salt in the air and the rhythmic lap of water reminded me I was in paradise. In the afternoons sometimes I could walk to the docks and find dolphins swimming and playing in the wake. There’s no city in the world that can make me feel alive like those moments can.

    Quiet is something I cherish as well. The great thing about small, quiet towns is that everyone knows everybody. You will go to the grocery store, local restaurant, or drug store only in inevitably run into someone you know. You also have the benefit of silence which is spiritual in nature.

    Yes, a quiet coastal town would do me well.

  4. I’m more torn on this than the others, but in the end, I believe I’m drawn to the same answer.

    See, city life is a daily adventure. There’s so much hustle and bustle, and the odds of accidently running into someone you’ve met are slim at best. The opportunity to meet that many people, potentially from all over the world is awesome. They’ve so many stories in ’em! And accents. Those are neat. Also, regardless of your interests and hobbies, there is, undoubtedly, an event going on that suits your fancy. I wouldn’t trade my time living in NYC for anything.

    That said, I’ve had that adventure. Granted, I’ve lived some years in a peaceful nowhere land as well, but give me some good friends and a classy romantic interest, and I think I could do my five year’s there. I have to make a few points clear though. Just because it’s quiet and labeled as a town, doesn’t mean this place is small. Give me forest land to hike and some bodies of water to sit near from time to time, and I’ll be all right. Oh! And some quality foods. That part’s key.

    In conclusion, I’m definitely torn. I think if I’m solo, I’ll take the city, but if I’ve family, I’ll take the coastal town.

  5. When I first read this question I thought, easy answer. I’d bury myself in the country and write to my heart’s content, no distractions. But searching my heart, I discover I’m not quite ready to do that. Maybe at some point in the future… As for now, I feel the lure of the excitement and bustle of a big city, short term, mind you! Five years is good.

    And since this is a hypothetical question, I’m going to hypothetically have enough money saved where I can live in the city without having to worry about a job. My dream existence would be to have all the time I need and desire to write. Also there would be a coffee/bookshop within walking distance and a pub close by that plays live music every night.

    I’d probably also want to work part time at the coffee shop, since I crave the interaction with others. I want time to see plays and concerts, the ballet and opera.

    But in reality, I don’t have it so bad. I visit the city when I want, take vacations in the country. And though I’m usually scrambling for time to write, I manage to find a nice balance in my life.

  6. Dianne, I know what you mean. I enjoy the city, as well; there are so many beautiful and interesting things to explore. Not just scenery — like you would have at the coast — but art, people from all backgrounds, music. I like human expression.

    But, I’m leaning toward coastal town for my own purposes. I was sure you would choose the coast and I the city!

  7. While isolated in your quiet coastal town, you will not eschew “things”. You will always have “things”. Your quiet coastal home will be full of “things”. You will never escape things (I dropped the quotes because it’s tiresome and you should have the picture by now) because it is human nature to acquire them. They are memories, and memories tie us both to the past and the present.
    In that you only really acknowledge those close to you: Again, human nature. I would counsel you to fill yourself with those you acknowledge. As rude as it may sound, take from them the qualities you desire and leave the rest. Grow from the experiences you have with them. The rest of the world will revolve regardless. As much as we might like to believe we are one with the world, we aren’t. We are only one.
    I read everything you write but rarely comment. This series compelled me to, particularly your answer to this question. Your answer is noble, but lacks reality.
    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t imagine some kind of mental utopia and extend that into your personal life. Go for it! We all need to feel good, in some cases bad (guilt is a quiet motivator), and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just keep a part of reality along side you while go through life.
    It isn’t all peaches and cream out there and your view, as noble as it is and regardless of how I would like to embrace it, isn’t reality.
    The dreams we dream are exactly that.

  8. Hello loudmouse. Thank you for reading my work and for commenting on this post. Although we can never be fully rid of things, I want to limit how often things compel my attention. My coastal home may be full of things, but the town itself doesn’t offer an endless amount of places to go, things to do. I don’t want human nature to be the reason I need things. I would rather blame society. When I find myself more anxious and enchanted by extrinsic things than my own personal growth (‘I own a house, therefore I’m responsible’ verses ‘I’m kind to my friends, therefore I’m proud of who I am’). And, although I may be but one person, I don’t want to ignore the fact that every individual life is a miracle (this doesn’t have to be in a metaphysical sense) and I think it’s important to acknowledge life instead of passively exist with it.

    I appreciate your honesty and hope you comment more often — your post is challenging and I will be considering it for a long while as I get to know myself better.

    Thank you.

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